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From source to end uses, Colorado tightens valves

From well heads to end uses, Colorado tightened the valves on methane emissions.

In the case of buildings, where state legislators adopted four bills that collectively seek to drive down demand of natural gas in buildings, that expression is metaphorical.

But in December, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission adopted regulations that will increase leak detection and repair inspections at oil and gas facilities.

Under the new rules, every oil and gas well in the state will be inspected at least once a year. That almost doubles the number of inspections.

Companies will have to inspect wells that produce more than 20 tons of oil and gas monthly, as well as those near disproportionately impacted communities and within 1,000 feet of homes and schools.


Governor says Colorado on track to meet its targets for reduction of emissions

A 2019 law specified goals of reducing Colorado’s economy wide targets for emissions reduction, the most important being 50% by 2030. Colorado, say state officials, is on schedule to achieve that goal.

“This report shows the breadth and depth of work happening across state agencies to tackle climate change and that we are on track to meet our targets,” said Will Toor, director of the Colorado Energy Office, in a press release issued during the last week of December.

That same law specified a 26% reduction by 2025 and, then in 2040, a 90% reduction.

Gov. Jared Polis in July issued an executive order requiring state agencies to update the public on progress being made on the Greenhouse Gas Roadmap and identify opportunities for further action.

Actions in 2021 included:

  • standards for greenhouse gas pollution in transportation planning;
  • investments in electric vehicle infrastructure and incentives;
  • a clean truck strategy;
  • energy efficiency requirements for gas utilities;
  • clean-heat planning for gas utilities;
  • advanced building codes.

Every three months, state agencies must report the percentage of near-term actions on track, with the goal of acting on at least 90% of the items identified in the roadmap that was adopted in January. By year’s end, the state was on track for 93% of near-term actions.


Gas plants losing fast in competition with cleaner energy sources, says RMI

More than 50% of gas plants proposed to come online in the past two years have been canceled prior to construction as clean energy resources have become more and more competitive, reports the Rocky Mountain Institute in a December report.

RMI said the trend has been shifting against new gas plants in the United States for several years. It began its analysis in 2018 and now asserts that combinations of wind, solar, energy efficiency, demand response, and battery storage can provide the same reliability as a gas-fired power plant.



Voluntary approach didn’t work, so Aspen looking to mandate building work

In 2018, Aspen launched a building benchmarking program aimed at larger commercial buildings. It was all voluntary. It yielded no volunteers.

Instead, the city now plans mandatory participation by commercial buildings of more than 20,000 square feet by December and multi-family dwellings by 2024. The program will require building owners and managers to track and reduce their energy use. The proposed law for Building IQ, as the program is called, would set an annual deadline for property owners to report their energy use and make improvements.

Aspen’s inventory finds buildings account for 58% of emissions, transportation 24%,  waste 12%, and aviation 5%.

A little bit here, a little bit there: What Platte River hopes to see in solar bids

Platte River Power Authority has told power developers it wants proposals for up to 250 megawatts of solar by Feb. 18. It is looking for this solar – plus storage —on both sides of the Continental Divide.

The member-owned utility delivers electricity to Fort Collins, Longmont, Loveland, and Estes Park. The solar capacity will displace coal at plants at Craig and north of Fort Collins that are scheduled for retirement by 2030. Platte River currently owns 18% of two coal-fired power units at the Craig Generating Station, which are to be retired in 2025 and 2028.

The request for proposal stipulates a strong preference for up to 125 megawatts in the Meeker, Rifle, and Craig areas where electrical substations already exist along transmission lines. Also strongly preferred is up to 125 megawatts near the Rawhide power plant, Platte River’s coal-fired plant north of Fort Collins.

In keeping with the new idea of distributed energy resources, Platte River is particularly interested in seeing proposals for projects of 25 megawatts or less that could connect to the distribution systems serving its four member cities.

“The goal is to have distributed energy resources in every member community,” said Jason Frisbie, general manager and chief executive.

Platte River also wants to see up to 100 megawatts of battery storage that can store the total output of the installation for four hours or more. This can be at the big projects, the smaller projects among the four member cities, or both.

“Connecting solar and battery storage on both the transmission and distribution systems will improve reliability and further advance our strategy of system integration,” said Frisbie.

This addition of solar will boost Platte River to 54% non-carbon sources.

Directors of Platte River in 2018 adopted a resource diversification policy that calls for utility leaders to pursue a 100% non-carbon energy mix by 2030, provided the organization’s core pillars of reliability and lower cost are upheld.

In 2020, Platte River maintained 100% transmission system reliability and provided power to its owner communities at the lowest wholesale rates in Colorado.


Pueblo County energy board to dive into the possibilities

An “energy board” was expected to start taking shape in early 2022 in Pueblo County to consider what sort of energy future the county, site of the Comanche Generating Station as well as Colorado’s largest solar array on the property of the Evraz steel mill, will look like.

Pueblo County Commissioner Chris Wiseman in early November told the Pueblo Chieftain that nearly the entire gamut will come under the purview of the study group, which will issue a report by year’s end. Wiseman will not run for reelection in November.

“I want to look at natural gas …the entire spectrum all the way up to nuclear,” Wiseman told the newspaper. That also includes green hydrogen, which is made from water and renewable sources.

Pueblo, the city, also has an energy task force, which met multiple times in 2021. A presentation was given to the city council. One take-away from that presentation was that nuclear is the choice of last resort.

That presentation also argued against the operating of Comanche 3 until 2040, as was then proposed. (Xcel now proposes 2035). Climate change and the cost of coal would not allow operations to continue that long, city council members were told.



Allen Best
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